It was still Christmas Break, but Jesuit High School's Stealth Tigers Robotics team gathered on campus on Saturday morning (Jan. 4) for the start of a long working weekend.
The Stealth Tigers – along with the top high school Robotics teams around the globe – together watched the big kickoff announcement for the 2020 season: The live-streamed presentation of the 31st annual FIRST Robotics competition. (Click here to view the video explaining the robot challenge for this season.)
Then, immediately, the brainstorming, strategizing, and planning began. Over the course of the weekend the team got a huge head start to a season that will have a Star Wars theme.
This year, FIRST has teamed up with Lucasfilm and parent company Disney as part of the Star Wars: Force for Change philanthropic initiative to inspire the next generation of heroes and innovators, creating a place where collaboration and collective wisdom can elevate new ideas and foster growth.
Though fundamentally similar to past challenges, this season's competition, named INFINITE RECHARGE, presents several new demands and opportunities for the Stealth Tigers (a.k.a. Team 3164, comprised of students from Jesuit and the Academy of the Holy Names).
The Star Wars-inspired competition will require teams to work to protect FIRST City from approaching asteroids. Each alliance will race to collect and score Power Cells in order to energize their Shield Generator for maximum protection. To activate sections of the Shield Generator, robots manipulate their control panels after scoring a specific number of Power Cells. Near the end of the match, robots race to their rendezvous point to get their Shield Generator operational in order to protect the city.
Additionally, for the first 15 seconds of the event, pilots will not be able to take control of the robots. During this time, robots must be able to perform tasks autonomously to store Power Cells and earn points.
A big change in this year's competition is the retiring of Stop Build Day, which means teams no longer will be required to stop work on their competition robots on a set date in February, a few weeks before the first competition date. Without the early submission deadline, the Stealth Tigers don't need to build an additional robot to practice with. They may continue to make adjustments to the competition robot until the event.
Even without the earlier submission date for the robot, the team maintained a high level of productivity over the weekend. The Stealth Tigers quickly developed strategies and designs for their robot. A prototype of each design will be completed this week to evaluate proof of concept, and within a week of the kickoff announcement, a final concept will be voted on, so construction, coding, and testing can begin.
The Stealth Tigers will compete in Regional competitions on March 13-14 in Orlando and April 2-4 in West Palm Beach with the goal of advancing to Worlds.
Please see a photo slideshow from Saturday's Robotics kickoff event below.